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Direct Solar Energy

Installed PV Power [MW ]





Cumulative Grid-Connected

Cumulative Off-Grid




‘92 ‘93 ‘94 ‘95 ‘96 ‘97 ‘98 ‘99 ‘00 ‘01

‘02 ‘03 ‘04 ‘05 ‘06 ‘07 ‘08 ‘09

Figure 3.6 | Historical trends in cumulative installed PV power of off-grid and grid- connected systems in the OECD countries (IEA, 2010e).Vertical axis is in peak megawatts.

of energy, and dynamic behaviour. Centralized PV mini-grid systems could be the least-cost options for a given level of service, and they may have a diesel generator set as an optional balancing system or operate as a hybrid PV-wind-diesel system. These kinds of systems are relevant for reducing and avoiding diesel generator use in remote areas (Munoz et al., 2007; Sreeraj et al., 2010).

Grid-connected PV systems use an inverter to convert electricity from direct current (DC)—as produced by the PV array—to alternating cur- rent (AC), and then supply the generated electricity to the electricity network. Compared to an off-grid installation, system costs are lower because energy storage is not generally required, since the grid is used as a buffer. The annual output yield ranges from 300 to 2,000 kWh/ kW (Clavadetscher and Nordmann, 2007; Gaiddon and Jedliczka, 2007; Kurokawa et al., 2007; Photovoltaic Geographic Information System, 2008) for several installation conditions in the world.The average annual performance ratio—the ratio between average AC system efficiency and standard DC module efficiency—ranges from 0.7 to 0.8 (Clavadetscher and Nordmann, 2007) and gradually increases further to about 0.9 for specific technologies and applications.

Grid-connected PV systems are classified into two types of applications: distributed and centralized. Grid-connected distributed PV systems are installed to provide power to a grid-connected customer or directly to the electricity network. Such systems may be: 1) on or integrated into the customer’s premises, often on the demand side of the electricity meter; 2) on public and commercial buildings; or 3) simply in the built environment such as on motorway sound barriers. Typical sizes are 1 to 4 kW for residential systems, and 10 kW to several MW for rooftops on public and industrial buildings.

These systems have a number of advantages: distribution losses in the electricity network are reduced because the system is installed at the point of use; extra land is not required for the PV system, and costs for mounting the systems can be reduced if the system is mounted on


Chapter 3

an existing structure; and the PV array itself can be used as a cladding or roofing material, as in building-integrated PV (Eiffert, 2002; Ecofys Netherlands BV, 2007; Elzinga, 2008).

An often-cited disadvantage is the greater sensitivity to grid intercon- nection issues, such as overvoltage and unintended islanding (Kobayashi and Takasaki, 2006; Cobben et al., 2008; Ropp et al., 2008). However, much progress has been made to mitigate these effects, and today, by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Underwriter Laboratories standards (IEEE 1547 (2008), UL 1741), all inverters must have the function of the anti-islanding effect.

Grid-connected centralized PV systems perform the functions of cen- tralized power stations. The power supplied by such a system is not associated with a particular electricity customer, and the system is not located to specifically perform functions on the electricity network other than the supply of bulk power. Typically, centralized systems are mounted on the ground, and they are larger than 1 MW.

The economical advantage of these systems is the optimization of instal- lation and operating cost by bulk buying and the cost effectiveness of the PV components and balance of systems at a large scale. In addition, the reliability of centralized PV systems can be greater than distributed PV systems because they can have maintenance systems with monitor- ing equipment, which can be a smaller part of the total system cost.

Multi-functional PV, daylighting and solar thermal components involv- ing PV or solar thermal that have already been introduced into the built environment include the following: shading systems made from PV and/or solar thermal collectors; hybrid PV/thermal (PV/T) systems that generate electricity and heat from the same ‘panel/collector’ area; semi- transparent PV windows that generate electricity and transmit daylight from the same surface; façade collectors; PV roofs; thermal energy roof systems; and solar thermal roof-ridge collectors. Currently, fundamen- tal and applied R&D activities are also underway related to developing other products, such as transparent solar thermal window collectors, as well as façade elements that consist of vacuum-insulation panels, PV panels, heat pump, and a heat-recovery system connected to localized ventilation.

Solar energy can be integrated within the building envelope and with energy conservation methods and smart-building operating strategies. Much work over the last decade or so has gone into this integration, culminating in the ‘net-zero’ energy building.

Much of the early emphasis was on integrating PV systems with thermal and daylighting systems. Bazilian et al. (2001) and Tripanagnostopoulos (2007) listed methods for doing this and reviewed case studies where the methods had been applied. For example, PV cells can be laid on the absorber plate of a flat-plate solar collector. About 6 to 20% of the solar energy absorbed on the cells is converted to electricity; the remain- ing roughly 80% is available as low-temperature heat to be transferred to the fluid being heated. The resulting unit produces both heat and

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